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Yachts in the Little Bay harbor. (MYC Photo)

Increase in Visitor Expenditure and Villa Stays in First 3 Months of 2020 for Montserrat

Visitor expenditure in the first three months of the year was $100,000 more than in the same period in 2019. Last year, visitors to the island brought in EC$ 12.6 million and this year EC$ 12.7 million. This is a positive outlook when considering the aborted St Patrick’s Festival as it entered the home stretch with numerous event cancellations and border closures due to concerns of the spread of COVID-19.

This data was part of the first quarter report released by Statistics Montserrat. Total visitor numbers include tourists, excursionists, yachts, and cruise figures.

In 2019 visitors brought in EC$ 2 million in January and EC$2.3 million in 2020. Similarly, in February 2019 expenditure was EC$ 2.2 million and $2.3 million in 2020. For March 2019, visitors dropped EC$ 8.4 million into the economy and EC$ 8.1 million in 2020.

The COVID-19 crisis which resulted in aborted travel for many expected to attend the annual festival could be blamed for March 2020 numbers not reaching its full potential although 3226 visitors came to the island. In 2019, this figure was 4,509.

A total of 9,120 people visited Montserrat in 2019 from January to March. This year, that figure was 7,843, a 14% decrease.

There was an increase in travel by air, which may be associated with the regular ferry going on dry dock for an extended period and several days of cancellations due to poor sea conditions. This also affected excursionists numbers. January to March 2020 saw a 56.09% loss in day trippers by both air and sea. There were only 317 day trippers in the first three months of the year compared to 722 for the same period in 2019.

There was an increase in yacht visitors this year with 624. This was a 6.67% increase over last year’s 585 yachters.

The UK provided the most visitors to the island over the reporting period with 1482, which is a 16.14% increase over 2019. US visitors accounted for another 1137 of the overall numbers, a 2.8% increase over the 1106 who arrived in 2019 during January to March.

The OECS numbers saw the most dramatic decrease with only 749 visitors in 2020, a 36.95% loss over the 1188 who came in 2019.

Most visitors stayed in private homes, a 1.4% increase from 2971 in 2019 to 3029 in 2020. However, villas saw the most dramatic increase from 18 in 2019 to 422 in 2020.